Raising a child with autism requires a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, and therapists, even other members of the school. Every child is unique so be sure to make adjustments based on his/her needs. Remember, a school is where a child is meant to thrive, pick up academics and test the waters of a social environment. Ensure your child has the following support system in place when school starts:
Build a Parent-Teacher Team: An open conversation from the start about working as a team will be beneficial to the child. That way, both parties can share their observations and be on the same page.
Design Your Environment
Be it at home or the classroom, keep the environment and the schedule predictable. A routine gives children with autism one less thing to worry about, helping them soar in other areas.
Compliment generously: Who doesn’t like appreciation for a job well done? Reward them with gifts, praise, or little tokens of encouragement when they exhibit a desired behavior or achievement. Don’t push them to the point of exhaustion. Instead, stay patient and watch them bloom.
Create an IEP: An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) with clear objectives suited to the needs of your child is highly advisable as no two children with autism are the same.
Break Tasks Down
Divide complex tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This approach, known as task analysis, can help the child feel less overwhelmed and increase the likelihood of successful completion. I have broken down tasks such as packing the child’s school bag, washing hands, tying shoes, dressing, completing an assignment, and many more.
Use charts and pictures to introduce schedules and daily activities to your child, especially during transitions. For a child with autism, it is a great assurance and keeps anxiety at bay.
Alternative communication modes
The focus should be on improving communication and comprehension. So sign language, assistive technology devices, and visual communication systems go a long way.
Lights, sounds, textures, parents, and teachers should be aware of what triggers a child at the sensory level. The level of focus children show will depend on this.
Encourage social skills
The curriculum should have social skills training in the form of buddy systems and planned activities. Children with autism can have the same activities as neurotypical children.
Autism education requires teachers and parents to empower themselves. Training courses and workshops will aid in the child’s development.
Be prepared to evolve as individuals in this journey with your child or student. That is the beauty of working as a team.